Celebrating 2024 State Legislative Wins

Celebrating 2024 State Legislative Wins

This legislative session, Illuminate Colorado worked with legislators, families, and fellow advocates to advance policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Although Colorado legislators faced funding constraints and difficult decisions, we at Illuminate and our partners in prevention are celebrating several wins for children, families, and parenting people. This year, Illuminate monitored 21 bills and initiatives, supporting 18 legislative efforts that strengthen families.

2024 Legislation and Illuminate Policy Priorities

This year, Illuminate supported 18 bills that would strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Of these bills, 14 passed. Included below are highlights of 2024 legislative wins that strengthen families and promote Illuminate’s policy priorities.

To learn more about our 2024 policy priorities and how they build research-based protective factors that prevent child maltreatment, read Prioritizing Families Under the Dome: 2024 Policy Priorities and Promoting Protective Factors.

Priority #1: Support a comprehensive family strengthening system

HB24-1262

HB24-1262 Maternal Health Midwives supports a comprehensive family strengthening system by requiring a study of maternal health deserts and maternal care closures to better understand gaps in care and opportunities to expand access to care for pregnant people, postpartum people, and infants. In addition, this bill makes updates to the maternal health midwife workforce and prohibits discrimination of pregnant people in public settings.

SB24-175

SB24-175 Improving Perinatal Health Outcomes requires private insurance coverage of doulas, who offer vital care and support for pregnant people and infants, and especially promote happy and healthy outcomes for families of color. In addition, this bill expands opportunities for the Colorado Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative to gather and analyze data to improve health outcomes for pregnant people, postpartum people, and infants.

Priority #2: Increase economic support for all families to thrive by enhancing access to resources that promote financial well-being, economic security, and economic mobility

HB24-1311

HB24-1311 Family Affordability Tax Credit (FATC) creates a new tax credit that provides up to $3,200 to lower-income families with children and teens. Eligible families will be able to claim the FATC in 2026 when filing for tax year 2025. In combination with the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, this initiative is anticipated to cut Colorado child poverty in half!¹

HB24-1312

HB24-1312 State Income Tax Credit for Careworkers creates a new tax credit for low- and middle-income home healthcare workers and child care workers, including family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) providers, promoting participation and longevity in the vital care workforce. Eligible careworkers, including eligible family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) providers, will be able to claim this tax credit in 2026 on their 2025 income taxes.

HB24-1134

HB24-1134 Adjustments to Tax Expenditures to Reduce Burden increases the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 70% of the federal credit in the 2025 tax year and expands the tax credit at lower percentages in future tax years.

Jade Woodard, Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado and Reps. Judy Amabile, Chad Clifford, and Cathy Kipp.

Priority #3: Optimize resources dedicated to addressing substance use disorders in families

Illuminate Colorado Policy Manager Lex Loutzenhiser, fellow advocates, and Reps. Willford and Garcia at the HB24-1223 Committee Hearing.

HB24-1223

HB24-1223 Improved Access to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), in addition to its components that promote financial well-being, promotes access to child care for families impacted by substance use by adding participation in substance use treatment at the intensive outpatient level or higher as a qualifying activity to receive CCAP, assuming other eligibility criteria is met.

HB24-1045

HB24-1045 Treatment of Substance Use Disorders, among many other components, devotes additional funding to the Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund for the specific purposes of reducing prenatal substance use and convening stakeholders to identify strategies to promote child care access for families impacted by substance use. In addition, this bill ensures the Behavioral Health Administration can apply for federal Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder funding.

SB24-047

SB24-047 Prevention of Substance Use Disorders, among many other components, invests in and expands the Perinatal Data Linkage Project to track perinatal substance use and answer research questions to inform public investment, programs, and policies that strengthen families impacted by perinatal substance use.

Policy Priority #4: Establish and connect long-term funding pathways to sustain and scale Illuminate Programs, including, but not limited, to Family Connects; Healthy Families America; Circle of Parents; FASD Navigation, Support, & Training; and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) requested $4,000,000 to establish a 5 year Family Connects universal home visiting pilot program. As the state intermediary of Family Connects, we at Illuminate were grateful that legislators, during an especially tight budget year, prioritized and passed the HB24-1430 Long Bill (state budget) with $2,850,000 to Family Connects in order to support current Family Connects sites, expand to additional counties, and fund a cost savings study to learn more about the cost benefits of universal home visiting in Colorado. To learn more about Family Connects, visit the website!

Thank you to our partners!

Illuminate could not celebrate the successes of this legislative session without celebrating and thanking our partners, who led many of the policy initiatives highlighted, supported us in our work, and provided vital feedback to promote policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Learn more about our incredible partners who led this work:

What’s Next?

Although the 2024 state legislative session has come to a close, the work continues! Illuminate’s policy team works year-round to ensure our state agencies, state legislators, and federal congressional delegation are prioritizing policies that strengthen families and are informed by research, evidence, and the perspectives of people with lived experience to prevent child maltreatment. In addition, we will be working with partners to remind our communities to vote this November and offer information about important ballot initiatives. Keep an eye out for future blogs and updates from Illuminate’s policy team to stay in the know and get involved!

Learn about the full expanse of bills Illuminate supported and how they fit into our multi-year policy framework and priorities:

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Reflecting on the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session

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Strengthening Families Impacted by Substance Use through Policy

Strengthening Families Impacted by Substance Use through Policy

Families impacted by substance use face unique barriers and challenges to accessing support.

By promoting access to prevention programs and supportive services, we can build a foundation for families to thrive. This Colorado legislative session, Illuminate is at the capitol urging legislators to prioritize families impacted by substance use.

Preventing and Responding to Perinatal Substance Use

Across the United States, there is a continuous need to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and better support pregnant people who use substances to promote health and wellbeing for pregnant people, new parents, and infants. A recent report published by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that 89% of pregnancy-related deaths from 2016-2020 were preventable, with suicide and unintentional drug overdose being the leading causes of death for pregnant and postpartum people.¹

By building non-punitive, wraparound support for pregnant people and new parents, and building an infrastructure that empowers healthcare providers and community-based services to better respond to families impacted by substance use, we can prevent substance use and mental health-related deaths and promote happy, healthy outcomes for families.

Throughout the Colorado legislative session, Illuminate Colorado and our partners are informing legislators of the nature and impact of perinatal substance use and advocating for legislative change. Two bills emerged from the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee that, among other provisions, would strengthen families impacted by substance use. HB24-1045 Treatment for Substance Use Disorders would invest in programs that prevent prenatal substance use by appropriating $150,000 to the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund for this purpose. SB24-047 Prevention of Substance Use Disorders, among other provisions, would invest in and expand the Perinatal Data Linkage Project, led and implemented by the University of Denver’s Colorado Evaluation & Action Lab. The purpose of the Perinatal Data Linkage Project is to track perinatal substance use and answer research questions to inform public investment, programs, and policies that strengthen families impacted by perinatal substance use.

The Illuminate Colorado Policy Team at the Colorado State Capitol.

Would you like to learn more about work in Colorado to respond to perinatal substance use? Check out SuPPoRT Colorado.

Responding to the Needs of Individuals and Families Impacted by FASDs

As the Colorado affiliate of FASD United, Illuminate also advocates for programs and policies that prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) and better serve families impacted. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders or FASDs impact thousands of Colorado families and result from a disruption in fetal development due to prenatal alcohol exposure. Families impacted by FASDs often report a lack of resources and supportive services, including lack of FASD-aware behavioral health and medical providers, caregiver supports, and education supports. 

This legislative session, Illuminate and FASD advocates have engaged with two bills that would increase funding to prevent FASDs and ensure individuals with an FASD and their families have access to knowledgeable professionals and affordable services. SB24-181 Alcohol Impact & Recovery Enterprise would create the Colorado Alcohol Use Prevention and Early Intervention Grant Program, which may be awarded to fund activities to prevent and respond to FASD in Colorado. 

Increasing Access to Child Care for Families Impacted by Substance Use

Parents and caregivers experiencing substance use and mental health challenges can face unique barriers to accessing treatment services and other supports. Research shows that difficulty finding child care is one of the strongest predictors of self-reported neglect among parents seeking substance use treatment, including severity of substance use and other mental health challenges.² However, in Colorado, only 3.1% of treatment providers provide child care to parents accessing treatment services.³

This legislative session, Illuminate supports HB24-1223 Improved Access to the Child Care Assistance Program, led by our partners at Healthier Colorado and Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition. This bill, among other provisions, would add enrollment in intensive outpatient or higher levels of substance use treatment as a qualifying activity to receive child care subsidies through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Illuminate has heard from families and treatment providers that the current CCAP work and education requirements are barriers for caregivers engaging in more intensive substance use treatment, as many may not maintain employment or higher education in order to engage in more intensive treatment. HB24-1223 would increase access to child care for families impacted by substance use by ensuring that caregivers receiving treatment services have increased access to CCAP.

Although HB24-1223 is an important step toward ensuring access to child care for families impacted by substance use, Illuminate recognizes that cost is not the only barrier to accessing child care for families. In order to better understand and eliminate barriers to child care access, Illuminate has advocated for a provision in HB24-1045. This provision would fund a stakeholder group that would be tasked with identifying strategies to increase access to child care for families impacted by substance use.

As the Colorado legislative session progresses, Illuminate will continue to advocate for legislative change that strengthens families!

Keep up with which bills we’re tracking and stay up-to-date on our policy work all year long!

Citations
  1. CDPHE (2023). Maternal Mortality in Colorado, 2016-2020. Retrieved from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L8YyFzO7MUKJuG17p2qa1O8mwTz_PR4T/view
  2. Cash, S. J., & Wilke, D. J. (2003). An ecological model of maternal substance abuse and child neglect: Issues, analyses, and recommendations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73(4), 392404. https://doi.org/10.1037/0002-9432.73.4.392.  
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). 2022 State Profile – National Substance Use and Mental Health Services Survey (N-SUMHSS). Retrieved From: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt42713/NSUMHSS-State-Profile-22.pdf

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A Day in the Life of Illuminate Colorado’s Policy Manager

A Day in the Life of Illuminate Colorado’s Policy Manager

What does it mean to advocate for policies that strengthen families?

We spent a day with Lex Loutzenhiser, Illuminate’s Policy Manager, to find out.

Tag along!

 

Tuesday, April 9th

9:00 am – Team meeting

First, Lex starts off their day with a Policy Team meeting. She meets with Jillian Fabricius, Illuminate’s Deputy Director, to review their plans for the week. These small team meetings usually consist of discussing advocacy needs, bills or policies of interest, how they plan to engage stakeholders, and how to best engage in collaborative efforts with partners.

Lex Loutzenhiser, Policy Manager

Jillian Fabricius, Deputy Director

11:30 am – Prepare for a day at the capitol

After meeting with Jillian, Lex heads to the Illuminate Colorado office to make copies of a testimony they will be providing for legislators later on.

Next, it’s off to the Capitol building…

12:30 pm – A quick photo with Representative Cathy Kipp

It’s always fun running into Colorado legislators who are our partners in prevention!

Next, let’s head inside the Capitol…

1:00 pm – Partner meeting

Once inside the capitol, Lex finds a spot to join a meeting with the Colorado Home Visiting Coalition to participate and provide an Illuminate policy update.

Now let’s talk to some legislators…

2:00 pm – Senate Finance Committee

Lex then makes their way to the Senate Finance Committee room to join partners and bill sponsors to share Illuminate’s support of SB24-181.

During the committee hearing, Lex testified in support of SB24-181 to share about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in Colorado. They spoke to the need for increased funding opportunities to prevent FASDs and better serve individuals and families impacted by FASDs.

4:30 pm – Policy meeting with Illuminate’s Executive Director

Lex wraps up her day with a larger team meeting with Jillian Fabricius and Illuminate’s Executive Director, Jade Woodard. In the meeting, they discuss Illuminate’s policy work to ensure it is in alignment and supporting Illuminate’s broader goals and priorities.

Thanks for joining!

 

Be sure to stay up to date on all things policy–the end of this legislative season is sure to be an exciting one!

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Prioritizing Families Under the Dome: 2024 Policy Priorities and Promoting Protective Factors

Prioritizing Families Under the Dome: 2024 Policy Priorities and Promoting Protective Factors

This January, legislators returned to the Colorado State Capitol to kick off the legislative session. Through early May, the Colorado General Assembly will be introducing bills, engaging with constituents and stakeholders, and working with one another to turn legislation into laws. During this exciting time, Illuminate Colorado will be at the Capitol, advocating for policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

Policy Change and the Five Protective Factors

In order to make informed decisions and advocate for policies that make a positive, sustainable, and long-term impact in Colorado, Illuminate utilizes several data-driven frameworks. When considering whether a policy will strengthen families and prevent maltreatment, one of the frameworks we look to for guidance is the Five Protective Factors, developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. Research shows that when families cultivate the following Five Protective Factors, they can better face life’s challenges, preventing child maltreatment

The Five Protective Factors Are:

  • Build Parental Resilience

  • Build Social Connections

  • Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

By advocating for policies that promote these protective factors, we can make research-informed policy change that strengthens families and prevents child maltreatment.

To learn more about our guiding frameworks, visit our Strategies & Frameworks webpage.

2024 Illuminate State Policy Priorities

To bring focus and momentum to our policy work, we at Illuminate have set four policy priorities this 2024 Colorado legislative session. By reviewing relevant research, engaging with our partners in prevention, and listening to families impacted, we have established the following priorities:

1. Support a comprehensive family strengthening system by:

    • Increasing prevention funding to optimize resources dedicated to primary prevention
    • Promoting the coordination of prevention efforts
    • Narrowing the front door to the child welfare system

Comprehensive family strengthening systems strive to promote all five protective factors. For example, Family Resource Centers offer key support within a larger family strengthening system by connecting families to resources, such as food and nutrition services that promote Concrete Supports in Times of Need, parenting resources to gain Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, and youth mental health resources that promote Social & Emotional Competence of Children. By advocating for policy change and increased funding to support a comprehensive family strengthening system that addresses families’ needs before and after child maltreatment occurs, we can build a foundation for families to thrive.

2. Increase economic support for all families to thrive by enhancing access to resources that promote financial wellbeing, economic security, and economic mobility

Increasing economic supports for all families regardless of child welfare involvement, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and direct cash assistance, strengthens families and reduces instances of child abuse and neglect. As Concrete Supports in Times of Need, economic supports reduce stress and increase opportunities for caregivers to create healthy environments that promote healthy child development. Illuminate will continue to advocate for economic supports as a primary prevention tool at the legislature to establish the building blocks for families to reach and maintain financial wellbeing.

3. Optimize resources dedicated to addressing substance use disorders in families

Optimizing resources for families impacted by substance use can promote several protective factors, including Parental Resilience through substance use and mental health services, and Social Connections through peer recovery groups. Illuminate will continue working towards the recommendations we made to the Interim Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee to advocate for broad systems of support and non-punitive strategies to respond to the unique needs of families impacted by substance use In addition, we will continue to advocate for increasing Colorado’s capacity to respond to the needs of individuals and families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). 

4. Establish, and connect long-term funding pathways to sustain and scale Illuminate Programs including but not limited to Family Connects; Healthy Families America; Circle of Parents; FASD Navigation, Support, & Training; and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

Since founded in 2015, Illuminate has brought many evidence-based or evidence-informed programs to Colorado that promote protective factors to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. For example, Circle of Parents is an Illuminate program that promotes Parental Resilience, Social Connections, and Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development by offering a space led by peers for peers to share the joys and challenges of parenting and offer support. As we and our partners continue to expand programs like Circle of Parents across Colorado, we will continue to advocate under the Dome to fund family strengthening programs for all families, including those at risk of or involved in child welfare.

As we navigate the legislative session, we are excited to continue to share information about legislation that strengthens families, updates on our policy work, and opportunities to advocate for families. 

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Family Strengthening at the Polls: Prop ii and Other Election Updates

Family Strengthening at the Polls: Prop ii and Other Election Updates

This November, Coloradans headed to the polls to vote on state and local ballot issues that impact families. Proposition ii passed, enabling Colorado to retain tax revenue for Universal Pre-K. Proposition HH failed, maintaining Colorado’s current tax structure. Governor Jared Polis initiated a special legislative session to consider funding set aside for Prop HH and a newly available federal funding stream that would strengthen families through concrete food and nutrition support.

Voters Supported Retaining Tax Revenue for Universal Pre-K

Colorado voters overwhelmingly voted in support of Prop ii, which will enable Colorado to retain $23.65 million in collected tax revenue to fund Universal Pre-K (UPK) and maintain current tax rates on nicotine and tobacco products to continue funding this program. Illuminate is proud to support Prop ii, which promotes healthy child development by increasing access to high-quality experiences and loving relationships by retaining funding for UPK. Funding retained through Prop ii will be utilized to continue the important work that was approved by voters through Prop EE in 2020 to build a universal preschool system. Illuminate is grateful to Colorado voters for prioritizing public investment in UPK and to the early childhood advocates who led this work. For more information on why Illuminate supports Prop ii, visit our pre-election blog.

Proposition HH Failed to Pass

Coloradans voted in opposition of Proposition HH, a ballot measure that, among other provisions, would have lowered property taxes and temporarily raised the TABOR cap. This ballot measure failed, maintaining Colorado’s current tax structure.

Legislators Will Address Property Taxes and Summer Food and Nutrition Support in a Special Session

During the 2023 regular legislative session, Colorado legislators voted to set aside $200 million for property tax relief, which would have been utilized upon the passage of Prop HH. Due to the failure of this ballot measure, Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order on November 9th to hold a special session that will begin on Friday, November 17th. During this special session, Colorado legislators must address specific, time-sensitive issues clearly named in the executive order, including:

    • Immediate, one-time property tax relief
    • Utilization of newly available federal funds to provide food and nutrition support to Colorado children during the summer of 2024

Learn More about Ballot Measures and Election Results in Your Region

In addition to statewide ballot measures, Coloradans voted on many local issues that impact children and families, including school board elections, affordable housing measures, and more. Visit the Secretary of State’s election results webpage to view results in your area.

Don’t miss out on policy updates from Illumiante!

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Celebrating 2024 State Legislative Wins

2023 Ballot Measure: Prop ii Promotes Protective Factors and Family Well-Being

Illuminate Colorado is proud to support Proposition ii, which would allow Colorado to retain tax revenue to fund Universal Pre-K (UPK). By ensuring continuous and adequate funding for UPK, Colorado would promote concrete supports, one of five research-based protective factors to prevent child maltreatment. By supporting Prop ii, voters can ensure funding goes towards the Preschool Program Fund for the purpose of UPK, rather than returned to nicotine and tobacco product distributors and manufacturers.

Universal Preschool is a Concrete Support that Promotes Healthy Child Development

Children need high-quality experiences and loving relationships to support healthy development. Concrete supports in times of need is a research-based protective factor that prevents child abuse and neglect.¹ Pre-K serves as child care, with added educational components, and Colorado’s newly implemented UPK provides parents and caregivers with up to 15 hours per week of preschool at no cost.²

In doing so, UPK expands opportunities for reliable, affordable, and high-quality preschool for families, promoting a concrete support in times of need and healthy child development. 

Prop ii Prioritizes State Investment in Concrete Supports

In 2020, Colorado voters approved Proposition EE, which enabled Colorado to utilize tax revenue from e-liquid and vaping products that contain nicotine and from tobacco products to fund a statewide UPK system. Under TABOR, all Colorado ballot measures that increase taxes must include an estimate as to how much revenue will be raised if the ballot measure is approved.³ However, when Colorado collects more in taxes than originally estimated due to increased cost or utilization of goods, taxes must be returned in rebates, unless Colorado voters approve an additional ballot measure that allows the state to retain collected revenue.

Last year, Colorado collected $23.65 million above the original estimate set forth in Prop EE. This 2023 legislative session, the Colorado legislature passed HB23-1290, enabling Coloradans to vote on whether to retain $23.65 million in collected tax revenue to fund UPK and maintain current tax rates on nicotine and tobacco products. In November, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to approve this ballot measure with a ‘yes’ vote and ensure current and future funding for UPK.

We at Illuminate recognize the original purpose and intent behind Prop EE, as approved by voters in 2020, to support families and increase affordability of preschool for all young children by building a universal preschool system in Colorado.

Continuous and sufficient funding plays an integral role in implementing an equitable system, as intended by voters, that extends additional hours to families with needs for increased support, including families of preschoolers with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Prop ii is an opportunity for voters to opt to continue the important work that was approved in 2020 to build a universal preschool system and prioritize state investment in early childhood and concrete supports for families.

Ballots were mailed out this week!

Already a registered voter?

Keep an eye on your mailbox for your mail-in ballot. Mail in or drop off your ballot by the posted deadline to make your voice heard! If you are registered, but did not receive your ballot, you can find a polling location to vote in person.

Unsure if you are registered to vote?

Visit the Secretary of State website to check your Voter Status.

Not registered?

Good news! Coloradans can register to vote up through Election Day. Visit your local polling location to get registered and vote in person.

Citations
  1. Center for the Study of Social Policy. (n.d.) About Strengthening Families and the protective factors framework. Retrieved From: https://cssp.org/our-work/projects/protective-factors-framework/
  2. Colorado Department of Early Childhood. (n.d.) Universal Preschool Colorado. Retrieved from: https://cdec.colorado.gov/universal-preschool-colorado
  3. Colo. Const. art X, § 20.
  4. Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly. (n.d.) 2023 State Ballot Information Booklet. Research Publication No. 793-2. Retrieved from: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/blue_book_2023_-_english.pdf

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